BEHOLD OUR LIGHT (Presentation of the Child Jesus in the Temple)
This is such an interesting feast.  First, the gospel brings us back to a Christmas scene. This time, the parents of Jesus come to the temple to offer sacrifice. And joining them are a pair of elderly people, who excitedly pronounce prophecies about the Christ Child. I imagine a perfect family picture, with the grandparents home for a visit!
Second, this feast comes with a concrete symbol, the lighted candle. At this time in Rome during my student years, religious men and women gather for Mass. The candles represented the flame of self-dedication and commitment to God and the Church. In reality, we have all received the lighted candle at our baptism.
In the gospel, the centrality of the light becomes conspicuous. Simeon, the old man, spent all his life waiting for the moment when God would unveil his promise. When he saw young couple and the baby offering the prescribed gifts, his heart beat faster. Something in him said that this is the Child destined to be the “light of revelation to the nations, and the glory of Israel (Luke 2:32).  Overjoyed, Simeon prayed for God to take his life right there and then.
The same can be said of Anna, the old woman who committed her life to the same mission of waiting for the fulfillment of the Lord’s promise.  Though it was not mentioned in the gospel, she too must have joined Simeon’s prayer for praise, thanksgiving and readiness to enter heavenly glory.
Today we come to this Eucharist with the hope that our candles will be blessed. These candles are dear to us because we use them for prayer.  We light them when we are enveloped in fear in the midst of storms, earthquakes and personal tragedies. The candles will be a daily reminder that God visits our lives as he visited the temple, and he cares for us, as he cared for Simeon and Anna.
But more than these, the candles point to a relationship with the Lord. God has indeed sent us the light, his Son, as proof of the greatness of his love.  God has seen how we stumble in the dark, how darkness dominates our society, our church, our families, and our hearts. The Lord takes the initiative by lighting his candle and offering to us a lighted path to follow. Jesus is the Father’s gift of light to a people waiting in darkness.
The candle is also the symbol of our response to the Lord. We are willing to take the lighted candle and make it our own. Like Simeon and Anna, we want to be free from the confusion and uncertainty that plague us.  We want to move out of our darkness and so entrust ourselves totally to the light of Christ. We receive the light God offers us in Christ so we can make sense of our journey once again.
Today let us ask the Lord to illumine our hearts with the light that gave courage and hope to Simeon and Anna, so that freed from our own darkness, we may spread this light to our waiting brothers and sisters.